Thursday, July 23, 2009

Anger Management, Shots of Tequila, and a Bison's Penis

"It's time to open the doors to Hell."

Yeah, but whose Hell? Usually it's Chef Gordon Ramsay who dishes it out, but it looks like this season the producers not only got people who cook but have some major anger management issues. I don't really see any of the contestants decent enough to warrant a job as the Head Chef at Araxi in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada ("Where your dishes will be featured during the 2010 Winter Olympics!") Don't send anything back to the kitchen, people, or the Head Chef will come out and pummel you!

Jean-Philippe (the Belgian with the French name) tells the newbies that he wants to give them some pointers before they enter Hell's Kitchen. The giant TVs in the lobby show Bonnie from Season 1 telling them to "turn on the stove." Colleen from last season says "Taste your food!" Aaron from Season 3 offers "There's no crying in Hell's Kitchen." Some of our aspiring chefs roll their eyes and say how their tips are "elementary" and should be second nature - we'll see.....

Chef Ramsay then asks them "Are you ready?" and the wall lifts. We see him standing there looking imposing and yelling at them to go make their signature dishes in 45 minutes. He also says that for the first time the dishes will go head to head as a team challenge between the Red Team (women) and Blue Team (men).

Suzanne, a sous chef, is up first against Dave, an executive chef. Suzanne dares to make a fontina risotto - pretty ballsy, considering risotto is one of those dishes that never comes out right enough for Ramsay. He remarks it looks undercooked. She says it's not. He tastes it, asks Dave to taste it (he says it's "chalky"). Ramsay spits it out. Dave's dish is up next and it's ostrich with brussel sprouts. (Ostrich is his signature dish? Where the hell does he work?) Ramsay likes the meat but says the brussel sprouts are undercooked. "Piss off, both of you" and neither team gets a point.

Tek (a presently unemployed line cook) made a chipotle honey grilled shrimp, which Ramsay says is "nice." Louie is a diner owner/cook and makes sausage gravy over biscuits, which Ramsay has seemingly never tasted before. He acts really put out having to taste the dish, and all of us who have been to diners before know that if you can't make a good sausage gravy, you might as well close up shop. Ramsay labels it "gunk" and gives the girls a point.

Joseph the sous chef is an ex-Marine and says he's gonna win it. Whatever. He makes a roasted veal chop with vegetables, and the brussel sprouts are hard. Ramsay tells him to try one, and Joseph wants a fork, saying "I'm not an animal." Ramsay tells him not to get defensive and we can see Joseph has taken his Marine training a bit too much to heart - he oughta be interesting when Ramsay gets in his face. Tennille makes a lamb chop with a balsamic glaze, which is "nice" and the girls get a point. 2-0.

Amanda has to scurry to get two shots of tequila to go with her dish, which is "Marguerita French Toast." She wants Ramsay to do a shot with her but he doesn't oblige, so she drinks hers alone. Ramsay is too busy looking dumbfounded that Amanda has given him "a piece of bread with egg on it" and asks her what she did for the other 42 minutes since it only takes 3 minutes to make. Tony is a culinary store owner who's never gone to culinary school and "cooks from his heart." He made mussels with chorizo and Ramsay awards Tony and the men a point. 2-1 Red Team.

Melinda (a private chef) offers a poached lobster dish that is "rich and succulent and luscious and velvety." Except Ramsay wants to know where the lobster tail is and is told that "During the cooking process I had some challenges." She's got the quintessential deer-in-the-headlights look and we come to learn that she's really, really good at it. Jim (sous chef) made an ahi tuna with soy vinagrette, and Ramsay proclaims it "delicious." The Blue Team gets the point and we're all tied up.

We're breezed through Kevin and Ariel, and Lovely and Andy, who get no points for their dishes. Sabrina can win it for the ladies with her chipotle pork tenderloin! Ramsay spits it out, complaining that it's too hot. Van from Dallas made a foie gras with minted caramel (which, for you non-elitist foodies, is a pâté made from fatted goose liver, yum yum!). Ramsay calls it "intriguing" and gives the men a point. Out of all sixteen dishes, there were only five points given. Ramsay's gonna be tough this season!

The losing women have to clean the kitchen (and Louie proclaims that "women are best at cleaning." Aren't you the modern man?). The guys get to go to lunch with take-out from Gordon's West Hollywood restaurant. We are introduced to the sous chefs for the teams - Scott is back for the Blue Team, and Heather, the winner of Season 2, will be on the Red Team. (I thought the winners are head chefs at Ramsay restaurants? Hmmm...gonna have to check that out!) The girls get cleaning and are offered bologna sandwiches as they work. Once finished, they stumble up the stairs to the dorms, only to find binders with tomorrow's recipes that need to be memorized. In the meantime, the guys are drinking and partying in the hot tub until the wee hours (I guess they've never seen the show. You don't do anything you don't have to do until the wee hours!)

Prepping for service the next day, the women seem to have it together, having studied the recipes. The guys are hung over and slow. Ramsay comes in for a pep talk and we’re thinking the women are gonna kick butt - BUT! Lovely cooked the chocolate fondants after preparing them ("the directions said to bake for ten minutes.") Except they were supposed to be baked as they were ordered. As Lovely stutters and Ramsay spews f-bombs, Suzanne says "I’ll fix it" and gets to prepping more fondants. Really, though, has anyone ever gotten through the first dinner service all the way to dessert?

So the doors to Hell’s Kitchen are opened, and all the beautiful people begin streaming in. They’ve revamped the restaurant and added new items to the menu. As Ramsay yells out the orders, the women reply with the required "Yes Chef!" The men, however, look lost and say nothing after Ramsay rattles off the orders. Ooh, it’s gonna be a long evening for the hung over guys!

Tek is doing appetizers and her first offering is raw scallops. Jim is berated for only serving 4 scallops instead of 6 as offered on the menu. Lovely says her pasta is a minute away, but Ramsay tells her it’s already overcooked. Yep, just the normal chaos in the kitchen!

Robert from last season arrives at the restaurant with his wife. He had to quit the show because of health (heart) problems. It hasn’t been that long, and he’s still big as a house, so I wonder what he’s done to alleviate those problems. Ramsay mentions that he’d like to give Robert a second chance in the kitchen.

The Blue Team gets some appetizers out while the women keep floundering. They can’t seem to get their scallops done right or their pasta cooked correctly. Louie gets blasted for putting lamb in the oven. Huh, you ask? Well, according to Jim, it’s a "man’s primal instinct" to sear meat first, which Louie didn’t do, nor did Louie season the meat at all. Melinda again offers undercooked spaghetti and tosses it in the garbage (as opposed to putting it back in the pan and covering it to cook a little more) and Ramsay gives her hell. I think she does a better deer in the headlights than an actual deer in the headlights! As Chef Ramsay berates her, he checks the garbage can and begins pulling out mounds and mounds of spaghetti that Melinda has tossed - ten appetizers' worth in all. (That’s a bunch of spaghetti, folks!) Melinda’s eyes got bigger and bigger until I thought her head was gonna explode.

The guys have gotten out eight appetizers and can begin cooking some entrees. Louie, who is on meat, starts tossing some spinach in a pan and gets yelled at. (Imagine being one of maybe 2-3 cooks in a diner ... he’s just not used to doing one thing at a time. Relax, Louie, all you need to do is tend to your lamb.) "Leave the spinach alone!" "Yes Chef!" But Louie still pushes the spinach around. Joseph asks to be switched from garnish to lamb and Ramsay is insulted that Joseph would dare to tell him how to run his kitchen.

In the meantime, Lovely is feeling nauseated and goes to the back room and sits. She drinks four bottles of water because her body is "craving hydration." No one knows where she is (and surprisingly, Ramsay doesn’t notice she’s gone) and after 20 minutes she returns. She missed seeing Amanda get clobbered by Ramsay for putting the salmon in the freezer instead of the refrigerator - and I’m nominating this for best line of the season so far: "The salmon looks like a bison’s penis!" (I do not want to know how Ramsay knows that).

We see a plate of lamb chops piled up near the meat station. Uh-oh! More explosions! They kept falling apart so Louie just put them to the side. That’s lots of ruined lamb (I can only imagine how much food they waste on this show.) Ramsay goes ballistic, telling Louie to get out of the kitchen, go upstairs and pack his bags and "F off!" and shuts the kitchens down.

Well, no Louie makes room for Robert now. So Ramsay goes into the dining room, telling Robert he’s a "bloody talented cook" and asking if he wants to come back for a second chance. Robert is happy and his wife is too (sure, Robert, take off and leave me again!) So Robert ambles over to the Blue Team as Ramsay gives the teams hell for an atrocious service. He grudgingly gives the Blue Team the win for serving "some" entrees and tells the women to pick two people to nominate for elimination. We see some dissent around the table (where everyone is smoking. Not only is that not PC anymore, but it seems that it’s almost a requirement for this show that the contestants smoke. Surprising that it’s shown on TV so cavalierly. And don’t get all over me - I’m a smoker!) Tennille wants Lovely gone. Tek says Melinda is ditzy. (It’s the eyes, I tell you!) Amanda is nominated. Who will be leaving? Ramsay asks Tennille who is nominated and why. She says Melinda, who "doesn’t have her head in the game." She then nominates Amanda, who says Lovely should be nominated instead. Melinda is told to go, and our little deer walks down the hallway.

Chef Ramsay tells Robert he is going to the Red Team. "Last year you were a hero - this year you’re a zero." The girls are pretty happy, though, as Robert gives them tips on the menus and convection ovens. He’s going to be their "savior." Okay .... I don’t think so. When you suck, one person can’t fix all of you! As the second episode starts (which is just show #2 as opposed to hour #2 of a 2-hour show) Robert is in the intro shots of the cooks.

After reaming on the group for sucking big time at dinner service, Chef Ramsay tells them their challenge will involve shrimp. Lots of shrimp. They will behead, shell, and remove the (bleep) sac from as many shrimp as possible "according to Chef Ramsay’s standards" in ten minutes and the team with the most perfect shrimp will win. Lovely sits out because the girls have an extra member, and she encourages them from the sidelines, annoying most of the guys and even a few of her teammates.

Ramsay starts checking shrimp. Sabrina has seven good ones, Amanda has nine, and Tek has seven. Ariel managed six good ones. Tennille (who says she’s not used to working with seafood) has one acceptable shrimp out of 8 (she seemed to have missed all the sacs). Suzanne comes roaring back with 10, and Robert is last with only 4 good shrimp, giving the Red team a total of 44.

Andy begins for the Blue Team with seven. Van (the fish cook) has nine, Tony nine, Joseph the militant Marine has five. Dave comes up with four and Kevin has nine perfect shrimp, and the guys are now 2 away from winning with Jim’s shrimp left. His first one is great. Four shrimp left, of course he’ll pull this off! They can’t possibly make this suspenseful - yeah, right. The next three of Jim’s shrimp are tossed and it’s down to the last one (of course) and the guys manage to win again. The Red Team gets stuck cleaning more shrimp and segmenting and de-seeding lemons for tomorrow’s dinner service, while the guys take off to Newport Beach for lobster and dessert on a yacht.

The women complain about the work. Robert wants to take a break but Tennille tells everyone to keep working, they have a lot of lemons. Kinda ballsy, considering she was low on the shrimp totem pole with one.

At the lobster lunch, Joseph tells Gordon Ramsay and the guys that "I didn’t come here for lunches. I’m keeping my eye on the prize." He doesn’t care that he’s having lunch with a man he (you would think) wants to emulate and is one of the greatest chefs on the planet, let alone the guy that can give you one hell of a job and a start on a great career. I’m starting to feel sorry for Joseph - he’s pretty dour and can’t have fun.

Jean-Philippe shows up on a very large yacht and the guys comment about the "sock in his pants." While JP was wearing non-baggy pants, it made me wonder what the fellas were doing looking at his crotch. (Tony, maybe. But not the rest of the guys. And certainly not Marine Joseph!) Enjoying the ride, the guys discuss having lunch with Gordon Ramsay and Joseph pooh-poohs it like Ramsay wasn’t even worth his time. This guy’s gonna do something really dumb, I just know it. Feeling less sorry for him....

The next morning during prep, Robert gives the Red Team tips on what they need at their stations and the girls are appreciative. Tony is cutting grapefruit and Kevin bullies his way in to show Tony how it’s done. It makes no difference because Ramsay still yells at Tony for not cutting the grapefruit over a bowl to save the juice. Tony gets miffed that Kevin doesn’t have the decency to speak up and say that Kevin showed Tony how to do it the way Ramsay didn’t like.

To perk up things tonight, they will be serving scampi table-side. Van and Tennille will be in the restaurant doing the honors. Van is excited because he has "charisma!" and Tennille is not thrilled at all. They will have to coordinate with their teammates in the kitchen to make sure they’ll be serving their scampi with the other appetizers for the tables. Tennille (who is black with dreadlocks) tells a table she’s impersonating Whoopi Goldberg (which gets a laugh and yes, she actually kinda looks like Whoopi). Ramsay shouts the order to the Blue Team and Tony hears scallops, so he cooks them up in a whiz and brings them to the pass - except that he didn’t talk to anyone else in the Blue kitchen and doesn’t have the pasta or the garnish to go with it. Ramsay lets him have it and tells him to talk to his team before he cooks. In the Red kitchen, Lovely is cooking on another station’s burner because she has no gas on hers. She obviously didn’t pay attention to the "helpful hints" at the very beginning - specifically, Bonnie saying "turn on the stove." Lovely sputters that "Tek told me it was on." (And if Tek told you to jump off a bridge....?)

It looks like the guys will get some appetizers out so Van gets ready to start cooking some table-side scampi. Tony finds out from Ramsay that the scallops are undercooked and cold in the middle and runs out to the dining to tell Van that he f’ed up (and did NOT whisper it in Van’s ear either). Kevin then takes over the fish station from Tony.

Despite his previous experience, Robert screws up the risotto and starts his pan on fire. Tennille says he’s no savior at all, but just like everyone else. Jean-Philippe tries to talk to Van and give him some constructive criticism and Van is blowing JP off, really making JP angry. Ramsay asks JP what the deal is, and JP tells him that Van is going to the wrong table. Ramsay yells for Van from the kitchen and Van tells his customers "I’ll be right back. I’m going to go get yelled at now." JP explains that there is a language barrier because Van is from Texas.

Tennille is having her issues table-side and serves undercooked shrimp - to a pregnant woman. Boy, we had to listen to that one a few times before the show was over! Van gets cocky and ends up dumping shrimp all over the dining room. He has to go get another pan and runs to the kitchen to do so, angering Jean-Philippe who tries to tell Van not to run in the dining room. Van blows him off once more, so JP puts his hand on Van’s chest and says "listen to me!" Van starts shoving JP back and Ramsay tells them both to head to the back. In a storage closet, Ramsay demands explanations, then basically ignores both of them, telling them each to "do your job." As they get ready to leave, Jean-Philippe opens the door and tells Van "ladies first."

Tennille announces she’s backed up six tables and we see everyone falling apart from there. The Blue Team manages to get some entrees out but not before Andy almost sends up raw chicken (with Joseph remarking that Andy has a meat thermometer he’s not using in his sleeve), Sabrina sends up undercooked chicken, Kevin helps Tony cook halibut, and Lovely offers raw sea bass the first time, then blackens it the second time. Ramsay yells at Joseph, Van, Kevin and Tony who are all at the fish station trying to get the fish entrees out. In the Red kitchen, Ramsay gets some burned chicken and blows up. That’s it! He’s had it! He tells the teams "no more cooking." They will get out all that clean shrimp and serve nothing but shrimp cocktails because they don't have to cook shrimp cocktails and can’t screw them up. Once those are out, they are told to shut off the ovens.

Chef Ramsay is disgusted and tells both teams to "piss off" and nominate two people. Tony admits to his team that he screwed up and should be up for elimination, then says in an interview that Andy should have "manned up" like he did. Jim tells Van he should be up for elimination for almost punching Jean-Philippe, and Van goes off, screaming about punching Jim’s lights out. Deep breaths, Van. Okay, inhale ..... hold, three, two, one .... exhale. Now isn’t that better? He stomps off. Tennille doesn’t feel comfortable nominating anyone since she wasn’t in the kitchen. Everyone harps on her for serving the undercooked shrimp to a pregnant lady. Tennille and Lovely end up as the two to be eliminated. Joseph is asked who is the first up for elimination and why. Joseph replies "They know who they are, they can speak for themselves." Ramsay isn’t talking to them, he’s asking Joseph. "Hey smartass, the first nominee and why." Joseph says okay, "it’s Tony and Andy." Ramsay has this look that says "is he really this dumb or this arrogant?" He tells Joseph he’s "stupid" and again insists on the first name and why. Joseph says "Why? Tony. Why? He knows why. We sat down as a group. We’re men!" Ramsay (with the look on his face) stops him and asks if Joseph wants a medal. "I’m speaking plain English. The first nominee and why. Is that clear?" Joseph then decides to take a stand, saying "I ain’t no bitch, Chef!" Ramsay’s got the biggest look of WTF? on his face I’ve ever seen. The Red Team starts piping up that Joseph should show some respect. Robert says that Ramsay is trying to get the best out of him. Joseph tells them to shut their effing mouth. Ramsay tells Joseph that "I ask the questions, you give the answers." At this point, Joseph mumbles profanities as he strips off his jacket, throws it on a table, gets into Ramsay’s face and tells him "Let’s go outside and settle this." Here I notice that Tony and Andy didn’t say a word. Joseph is doing his best to make Ramsay forget all about them! (And now I can't feel sorry for an uncontrolled idiot!)

So ends the show! We don’t know who goes home, if either Ramsay or Joseph live through the evening, or if someone gets arrested. To tell the truth, I wouldn’t be surprised if Joseph doesn’t get tossed (Ramsay would keep him around just to make him as miserable as possible). Oh well, we shall wait till next week to find out how the fireworks go!

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